Navigating the Digital World

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 28 June 2024
15 September 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module is designed to provide you with the practical skills required to navigate the increasingly digital world we live in, and to open up an important critical, interdisciplinary space.

Students will be encouraged to consider its legal, ethical, social, political, creative and economic implications.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To acquire specific skills in the use of digital tools and online platforms.

  • To introduce selected debates surrounding the development and use of digital technologies.

  • To gain a critical understanding of the ethical, technical and social dimensions in the development and use of digital technologies.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Have a deeper understanding of digital literacies, as well as the confidence and ability to use a broad range of digital technologies.

  2. Be able to discuss the material covered on the module and to demonstrate this competence through coursework, seminar discussions and the creation of a digital portfolio.

  3. Understand the topics and debates that are central to the digital world.

  4. Have the confidence in using a number of specialised terms and terminology on digital technologies.

  5. Be able to distinguish elements of continuity and disjuncture in the development of digital technologies.

  6. Understand the impacts of digital technologies on society and human life.

Module information

What does it mean to be a "digital citizen"? As increasing portions of our personal and professional lives are played out online, acquiring the ability to effectively use digital interfaces and think critically about them is an ever more urgent task, as well as a topic of fierce debate. While some allege that digital technologies are a root cause of a "post-fact" era filled with "fake news" that limits our worldview, others see in them the key to unlocking social change and bringing people together in new ways and across geographical boundaries.

The digital revolution is constantly reshaping our world in a myriad of ways: from surveillance laws to social mobilisation; from innovative business models to open access information; from warfare strategy to medical treatment. Not only this, the way we construct our individual identities, build communities, protect human rights, and promote the humanities is increasingly mediated through online platforms, and contingent on the uneven access that global communities have to technology.

Some of the key questions we will be addressing are:

  • How are digital technologies transforming society?

  • To what extent do digital technologies curb or enhance our rights and freedom?

  • What digital skills are needed for the knowledge economy and a democratic society?

  • How can we build and use our online identities?

  • How might we use digital technologies as creative and engaging forms of communication?

Autumn Term

The Technology-Enhanced Learning Team (TELT) will lead two-hour sessions. Each session will provide training in a specific topic such as digital identities, e-safety, blogging, social media, multimedia production, and intelligent search strategies. Throughout the term, students will build a digital portfolio which will include a reflective report on their past, present and future use of technology.

Spring Term

Lecturers from different disciplines across the University will lead a series of weekly lectures, which will combine theoretical questions with real-life scenarios to explore issues such as hacking, social media, ethics, digital crime, video games and interactive technologies. These sessions are devised to help students gain a broad awareness of, and to think critically about, the ways that digital technologies are reshaping contemporary societies.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • Lectures.
  • Seminars.
  • Labs.

There will also be a Reading Week in each term when no teaching will take place, exact weeks to be confirmed.



The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Digital Portfolio    50% 
Coursework   Assignment (3000 words)     50% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Krisztian Hofstadter, email: k.hofstadter@essex.ac.uk.
PHAIS General Office - 6.130; isugadmin@essex.ac.uk.



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 64 hours, 37 (57.8%) hours available to students:
27 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.